Grab bolsters payment platform with Indonesian e-commerce acquisition

Ride-sharing operator buys Indonesia's e-commerce player, Kudo, as part of its US$700 million investment in the Asian market and plans to beef up its mobile payments offering, GrabPay.

Ride-sharing operator Grab says it is acquiring Indonesian online-to-offline (O2O) e-commerce platform, Kudo, to boost its mobile payments offering and grow its local presence.

The buyout was part of a four-year investment plan to pump US$700 million into Indonesia, where Grab had earmarked as a growth market and home to one of six research and development facilities worldwide, including Singapore and Vietnam. No financial details were provided regarding the Kudo acquisition.

The e-commerce vendor operated a network of more than 400,000 authorised agents across 500 Indonesian towns and cities, linking local consumers without bank accounts with online merchants and service providers.

When the acquisition was finalised, Kudo's technology and employees would be folded into Grab's own mobile payment platform, GrabPay. Both companies also would look at opportunities to expand Kudo's financial services offerings, including consumer loans and insurance.

The merger would provide local consumers wider access to cashless payments, drive online spending, and open up new income opportunities, Grab's president Ming Maa said in a statement Monday.

The Singapore-based ride-sharing operator also said it had hired a new executive, Jason Thompson, to head its GrabPay business and drive the development of new payments technologies.

According to Thompson, a large portion of Southeast Asia's population of 620 million still did not have bank accounts and depended on cash to transact, which he described as costly and insecure payment method. This provided a significant opportunity for GrabPay, he added. Based in Singapore, he was previously Asia and EMEA managing director for Euronet.